The informational plaque and brief artist statement that accompanies a work of art or a series rarely provide enough context for the artist’s piece. In my artistic experiences, I find it difficult to summarize every thought, sketch, mistake, lesson, and design that went into my piece. One hundred or so words are simply not enough to represent the artistic journey. So, attending a lecture about an artist’s series presented by the artists themselves gave me the unique opportunity to learn about the complicated artistic process unique to these artists and their series.
Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan, two Israeli artists, began their artistic journey in Telaviv with a ball of red string and a single word: mindfulness. The English word mindfulness translates into Hebrew as “put your heart into it.” This difference in translation inspired the two artists to travel across the United States, following the whims of others and creating public installations along the way. The “Serendipity Project” stemmed from the artists’ question: When you go to bed at night, what five things needed to happen that day so you can honestly tell yourself ‘this was a good day?’ The answer: creating art, experiencing something new, connecting to others on a deeper level, significant encounters, and amazing food. A van named Woody—the artists’ car, house, studio, bedroom, etc—took Gelfman and Avidan to 42 states and connected the duo to a network of experiences. The artists used yarn, text, and found objects to make their different, unassuming installations stand out from other forms of street art. Unlike other street artists, Gelfman and Avidan worked in daylight and actively interacted with passersby. The installations served as a connection between the artists and viewers, hence the significance of thread as a medium.
As I sat through their lecture, the stories of the installations reminded me of an artist I studied in high school. The French photographer goes by the pseudonym JR. Like Gelfman and Avidan, JR installs his work in public places—resembling graffiti art. Arguing that street art is the largest possible art gallery, JR hangs large black-and-white photographs like flyers around cities and challenges the perception of street art.
I found the presentation from the artists themselves incredibly valuable to my interaction and interpretation of their series. It inspired me to go back to previous works of mine, reviewing my processes and motivations. Avidan concluded the lecture with an inspiring message about success, “Find something you really want to do. Work your ass at is. And you will do it.”